Happy Birthday Teddy Roosevelt: Stories from the OG American Badass

(please listen to this while you read this article)

Teddy Roosevelt is the most badass American President ever, and a man many people could learn from today. His ideas were apolitical, his actions heroic, and he is my personal ultimate hero. There is so much to tell, I am just going to start from the beginning with a list of why he is so awesome.

#1 Alpha'd Asthma

Teddy conquered several disabilities as a child using his sheer force of will. Being both asthmatic and having bad eyesight, Teddy prescribed to his father's motto, "You have the mind but you have not the body, You must make your body," and through sheer will and determination he did. Straight up said, “fuck my lungs and eyes, ima full send life.”

#2 Overcame Depression By Taking On Nature (Also basically invented MMA)

After losing both his mother and wife on the same day, he went west and rebuilt his body and mind in order to heal from the tragedy. In this time he transformed from a Harvard-educated New Yorker to a rugged North Dakota rancher, all the while still participating in public service. He worked as a deputy sheriff, famously capturing boat thieves and bringing them to justice (opposed to a vigilante death sentence by hanging). Teddy was merciful by not killing these men. He watched over the captives for 40 hours straight, a progressive stance at the time to not kill them on site. Merciful to some, but to others he did what had to be done. During his time out west, he clean clocked an angry cowboy who had been shooting up a bar before Teddy walked in. The reckless cowboy called Teddy "Four Eyes" due to his glasses (this may be the first recorded use of this diss). Roosevelt showed him that having a glass jaw was way worse than glasses. By the time Teddy went west, he had been skilled in boxing and several martial arts, including Jiu-Jitsu. The guy once went blind in one eye boxing at the Whitehouse. He detached his retina, and that's when he switched only to Jiu-Jitsu because less striking couldn't make him anymore blind. The guy makes Joe Rogan look like a pansy, would have 100% been a better podcaster as well. 

#3 Held Police Accountable Before it Was Cool

After returning East and remarrying, he reentered New York politics and became President of the New York City Board of Police commissioners. He took on combating corruption in the police force, he himself would walk the streets at night to keep an eye on officers. Making sure they were not taking advantage of their power and abusing it. Teddy was progressive for his time, a huge proponent of taking down large corporations that threatened the free market. He used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act like it should be used. If T.R. was alive right now he would have Jeff Bezos by the balls. 

#4 Declared War On Spain, Had No Authority to Call That Shot, Dominated Spain

T.R declared war on Spain even though it absolutely wasn't his call. Total wildcard move. Teddy Roosevelt famously committed amazing badassery on San Juan hill. Absolutely sent the Spanish packing in Cuba as he led men on horseback to take two hills. The charge he made was legendary and I cannot possibly do it the service as someone who was actually there, here is a quote from Richard Harding Davis, a reporter at the battle. 


"Colonel Roosevelt, on horseback, broke from the woods behind the line of the Ninth, and finding its men lying in his way, shouted: 'If you don't wish to go forward, let my men pass, please.' The junior officers of the Ninth, instantly sprang into line with the Rough Riders, and charged at the blue block-house on the right.

I speak of Roosevelt first because, with General Hawkins, who led Kent's division, notably the Sixth and Sixteenth Regulars, he was, without doubt, the most conspicuous figure in the charge. General Hawkins, with hair as white as snow, and yet far in advance of men thirty years his junior, was so noble a sight that you felt inclined to pray for his safety; on the other hand, Roosevelt, mounted high on horseback, and charging the rifle-pits at a gallop and quite alone, made you feel that you would like to cheer. He wore on his sombrero a blue polka-dot handkerchief, a la Havelock, which, as he advanced, floated out straight behind his head, like a guidon. Afterward, the men of his regiment who followed this flag, adopted a polka-dot handkerchief as the badge of the Rough Riders. These two officers were notably conspicuous in the charge, but no one can claim that any two men, or anyone man, was more brave or more daring, or showed greater courage in that slow, stubborn advance than did any of the others. . . .

I think the thing which impressed one the most, when our men started from cover, was that they were so few. It seemed as if someone had made an awful and terrible mistake. One's instinct was to call them to come back. You felt that someone had blundered and that these few men were blindly following out some madman's mad order. It was not heroic then, it seemed merely terribly pathetic. The pity of it, the folly of such a sacrifice was what held you.

They had no glittering bayonets, they were not massed in regular array. There were a few men in advance, bunched together, and creeping up a steep, sunny hill, the top of which roared and flashed with flame. The men held their guns pressed across their breasts and stepped heavily as they climbed. Behind these first few, spreading out like a fan, were single lines of men, slipping and scrambling in the smooth grass, moving forward with difficulty, as though they were wading waist high through water, moving slowly, carefully, with strenuous effort. It was much more wonderful than any swinging charge could have been. They walked to greet death at every step, many of them, as they advanced, sinking suddenly or pitching forward and disappearing in the high grass, but the others' waded on, stubbornly, forming a thin blue line that kept creeping higher and higher up the hill. It was as inevitable as the rising tide. It was a miracle of self-sacrifice, a triumph of bulldog courage, which one watched breathless with wonder. The fire of the Spanish riflemen, who still stuck bravely to their posts, doubled and trebled in fierceness, the crests of Roosevelt (center) and the Rough Riders celebrate at the top of San Juan Hillthe hills crackled and burst in amazed roars, and rippled with waves of tiny flame, But the blue line crept steadily up and on, and then, near the top, the broken fragments gathered together with a sudden burst of speed, the Spaniards appeared for a moment outlined against the sky and poised for instant flight, fired a last volley and fled before the swift-moving wave that leaped and sprang up after them."

On the matter, Teddy Roosevelt commented himself:

"On the day of the big fight I had to ask my men to do a deed that European military writers consider utterly impossible of performance, that is, to attack over open ground an unshaken infantry armed with the best modern repeating rifles behind a formidable system of entrenchments. The only way to get them to do it in the way it had to be done was to lead them myself." 

#5 Tatted Up

He was inked up with a tat of his family crest on his chest

#6 Capable of Great Violence And Peace

After becoming president when McKinley was shot in Buffalo, Roosevelt devoted his policy to "The Square Deal" essentially ensuring that everyone in America would get a square chance at a good life. He set up the Bureau of Corporations, basically the FDA, and tons of progressive policies. He was the first American to get the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Russo-Japanese War in New Hampshire, as well as essentially preventing WW1 by talking France and Germany out of going to war with each other over Morocco. He famously established our national parks and refused to shoot a bear on a bear hunt because it was cornered and he did not think it was fair sporting to shoot under the circumstances. Thus the Teddy Bear was named after him. 

#7 Turned White House Into Straight Up Zoo

Teddy Roosevelt had so many animals in the Whitehouse. He had a ton of Guinea pigs, snakes, lizards, dogs, hyenas, bears, ponies, zebras, badgers, so many dogs, horses, parrots, and a bunch of children. He used the animals to intimidate foreign politicians. 


#8 Connected Two Oceans To Flex On The French

He also built the Panama Fuckin Canal which he probably didn't actually build by himself but this picture of him in an excavator makes me think he actually did. The French couldn't do it so he did. If it wasn't for the Panama canal the U.S. Navy wouldn't be able to absolutely dominate both the Atlantic and Pacific.


#9 Eat a Bullet Like It Was His Job (Built Different)

Teddy Roosevelt got shot then delivered an 84-minute speech. The man was simply built different in a way we probably will never see again. His reaction to getting shot was to say, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."---AKA BUILT DIFFERENT.

#10 He Saved Football

Teddy was quoted saying, "In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!” He also said, “I believe in rough games and in rough, manly sports. I do not feel any particular sympathy for the person who gets battered about a good deal so long as it is not fatal.” 

In his time, hundreds of football players a year were dying. Guys were cracking skulls with glorified winter hats on and something had to be done to prevent red-blooded American men from killing each other. Teddy Roosevelt assembled one of the greatest and earliest meetings of football guys on earth to find a solution. One of those solutions was the forward pass. T.R. was able to minimize the danger in the sport without "emasculating football." Rodger Goodell should take a page out of T.R.'s book.

#11 Solidified Humans as top of the food chain back when it was cool; Probably wouldn't do it now because it's not cool.

Teddy Roosevelt single handily stocked most American Natural history museums with his trophies. The man collected over 20,000 specimens. If it wasn't for him doing this the modern conservation movement would not exist. Teddy was a net positive for the environment in the end. He did get some pretty crazy trophies though.


#12 Couldn't Retire: Tried to Bring the Rough Riders back into WW1, Almost Died in the Amazon.

After his presidency and deep into his old age, T.R. tried to go fight in WW1 and get his band of Rough Riders back together but sourpuss Woodrow Wilson wouldn't let him. He tripped down to the Amazon to go exploring and almost died. The man knew talent when he saw it and even linked up with Houdini in the day. 

The man was fascinating on a level I probably will never understand. Someone who acted on personal conviction above all else. We may never see another like him. Today would have been his 162nd birthday had death not snuck up on him in his sleep. Teddy talked softly and walked with a big stick, something we all should aspire to replicate.